FAO builds capacity to ensure safe meat consumption and zoonotic disease detection in Liberia

FAO builds capacity to ensure safe meat consumption and zoonotic disease detection in Liberia


World meat production is projected to double by 2050, most of which is expected in developing countries. The growing meat market provides a significant opportunity for livestock farmers and meat processors in these countries. Nevertheless, increasing livestock production and the safe processing and marketing of hygienic meat and meat products represents a big challenge.

The sanitary conditions in the abattoirs and the sale of unsafe meat for human consumption is a major concern to the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) - Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) in Liberia. The absence of sufficient number of qualified meat inspectors coupled with limited number of slaughtering facilities in the country poses a great threat to ensuring the safety of the public health.

Recognizing this fact, FAO-ECTAD in close collaboration with the MoA and with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) organized a three-day capacity enhancement training for 24 livestock and quarantine officers as well as staff from Cuttington University, on the basic principles of meat inspection to ensure safe and wholesome meat for public consumption.

The training highlighted best practices in ante-mortem and post-mortem examination of animals and carcasses in slaughterhouses. Participants also acquired knowledge and understanding on meat handling and hygiene as well as zoonotic diseases identification and detection at abattoirs.

Quality Assurance and Inspection is Crucial in the Production of Quality and Safe Meat

At the training workshop, Mr. Joseph Anderson, Chief Veterinary Officer at MoA  referred to the training as “an opportunity for the livestock and quarantine officers to work collectively to ensure proper inspection of meat is carried out for the good of the community,” Mr. Anderson added that there has been a huge capacity gap among  quarantine officers, especially in animal health and meat inspection, which resulted to poor coordination between livestock and  quarantine officers at border entry points.

Mr. Anderson also added that the government of Liberia remains extremely grateful to FAO and USAID continuous support to improve animal and human health sectors.

In his remarks, Dr. Abebe Wolde, ECTAD Country Team Leader in Liberia mentioned that the main purpose of meat inspection is to detect and prevent public health hazard such as food-borne pathogens and zoonotic disease that could be transmitted from animals to human. “As you are aware, 60% of human pathogens are originating from animals and 75% of emerging and re-emerging diseases originate from animals. We, animal health and livestock professionals have a responsibility in keeping the health of livestock, and the livelihood of those who are dependent on the animals as well as the safety of the consumer”.

Dr. Wolde added that “Food safety is maintained at production, slaughtering and processing stages; therefore, those involved in the meat handling and the entire food processing, including transportation, have a responsibility to ensuring the safety and wholesome food for human consumption. He also insisted on “At every slaughterhouse, we should try to detect and prevent diseases that could pose health threats to human as much as possible”.

The USAID Senior Advisor of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) program in Liberia, Dr. Fatma Soud, said that “GHSA is a global partnership of over 64 nations, international organizations, and non-governmental stakeholders to help build countries’ capacity to help create a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats and elevate global health security as a national and global priority”.

“Promoting global health security to detect and mitigate outbreaks early remains a core tenet of our National Health Security Strategy” she declared, “the United States Government investments in global health security can help prevent the spread of human and animal infectious diseases and protect humans.